The 4 Paths

The 4 Paths

In a recent interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump, Rick spoke with Karunamayi. She touched on the need for patience and tolerance, blossoming from spiritual maturity. She also spoke of how everything will be OK because the Divine is in charge, not the negativity. And she spoke of 4 paths. The path of meditation (sometimes called Raja or Ashtanga), of Karma or service (Seva), Bhakti or devotion, and Gyana or knowledge.

I’ve spoken of these 4 paths prior as Karma (also described as the path of perception), Bhakti, Gyana, and Hatha, the path of the body (what some people in the west call Yoga). Raja (royal) is considered a blend.

On this blog, I speak of effortless meditation but as she notes, some do not have a body designed for sitting. For those people, the texts recommend service.

For some, greater spiritual maturity will shift the approach but for others, their journey will be dominated by one of these paths.

This blog emphasizes understanding and meditation as these are my dominant paths. Perception has certainly played a role here too. But these are not The Way, simply a way. Also, I have found that aspects of all of them are required at different stages of development. The awakening heart, for example, is well served by a period of devotion. Unity, on the other hand, is well-served by the discriminative intellect.

Part of the process of a spiritual unfolding is not following someone else’s path but discovering your own. Exploring what is out there and distilling what serves your journey. Discovering what works best for you, what you’re a natural at. Your life is in essence a process of evolution. Thus in many ways we cannot avoid it. But we can certainly allow it more fully and engage it more directly as these details become more conscious.

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    1. Right, Gina. However, at a given time, one will be dominant and we’ll tend to have a dominant path overall.

      It’s a little more subtle than we may first think. For example, I used to think I was on the gyani path because of the strong intellect. However, I soon realized I was a mostly a karma yogi, the path of action and perception, of service. Gyani is there but doesn’t dominate. I follow Raja yoga. And I’ve had bhakti phases, such as in the approach to and shift into God Consciousness.

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